atheltic games and contests, 1590s, from sport (n.). Meaning "sports section of a newspaper" is 1913. As an adjective from 1897. Sports fan attested from 1921. Sports car attested by 1914; so called for its speed and power:
I have just returned from the south of France, passing through Lyons, where I visited the [Berliet] works with my car, and was shown the new model 25 h.p. "sports" car, and was so impressed with this that I immediately ordered one on my return to London. [letter in The Autocar, Jan. 7, 1914]
1570s of armies; from 1882 in field sports; by 1905 in the political sense (compare left wing). Right-winger is attested by 1919 in U.S. politics; 1895 in sports.
late 15c., pariel, "rope or chain that fixes the middle of a yard to a mast," from parel "equipment" (c. 1400), earlier "apparel" (early 14c.), a shortening of apparel (n.).